The amended rule provides flexibility for projects that retime seasonal high flows, improving streamflow during crucial periods to benefit instream resources. Under the amendment (see WAC 173-501-070(4)), new interruptible uses may be approved from streams that are closed to new withdrawals under WAC 173-501-040 if we determine through the agency’s water right appropriation procedure under Chapter 90.03 RCW that the proposed use is consistent with:
(a) the intent of Chapter 90.94 RCW to offset potential impacts to instream flows associated with permit-exempt domestic water use; or
(b) applicable laws and restores and enhances streamflows.
The intent of this added language is to provide a narrow exemption that benefits streamflows and aquatic species. Under this exemption, a new water right can potentially be approved during the closure period, subject to an established instream flow or low flow limitation, and subject to conditions necessary to protect high flow functions, provided the proposed water use enhances and restores streamflows.